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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Cambridge United  
1 - 1
 Mansfield Town
Donaldson 36.
 
 Chapman 23.
Attendance: 4589 (297 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 19 December 2015

STAGS EARN POINT AT IN-FORM CAMBRIDGE WITH SOLID PERFORMANCE

Martin Shaw at the Abbey Stadium

Mansfield Town picked up a good point at in-form Cambridge this afternoon with a solid performance. Cambridge came into the game in tremendous form with 3 straight league wins under new boss Shaun Derry. But it was Mansfield who started the game better and were deservedly in front on 23 minutes as Adam Chapman fired home a low free-kick from 35 yards. It was a good shot from Chapman but as he admitted afterwards, the keeper Sam Beasant probably should have saved it. Chapman also admitted afterwards that he initially intended to cross from the free-kick but boss Adam Murray suggested from the sidelines that he should shoot, with the wind behind him. It was Chapman’s first goal of the season and he became Mansfield’s 12th scorer of the season. Cambridge were level on 36 minutes. Blair Adams tried to intercept a square ball but he only deflected the ball to Ryan Donaldson. Donaldson took advantage, got past Adams too easily and shot goalwards from the edge of the box. Donaldson got a very lucky break as the shot took a deflection off Krystian Pearce’s heel, wrong-footing Brian Jensen, and ended up in the back of the net. Plenty of luck involved in the goal but poorly defended as well. The goal gave Cambridge confidence and for the remaining 10 minutes of the half they created enough chances to go in front but the Stags somehow held out until half time despite uncertain defending. The half-time whistle came at a good time for the Stags, who were on the ropes in truth, and Cambridge were unable to continue with that momentum in the second half as the Stags nullified the threat. Indeed it was Mansfield who came closest to winning the game with two chances near the end: firstly Matt Green’s shot was well-saved by Beasant on 88 minutes, and then on 90+2 minutes, following a Stags corner, Krystian Pearce’s left-footed shot from close range was somehow blocked on the line by Beasant, when it seemed likely to be the winner. Beasant certainly making up for not saving Chapman’s free-kick with those two late saves. And so both sides had to settle for a point, and in my opinion it was a fair result.

A strange incident earlier in the game on 16 minutes as Mansfield nearly scored through a bizarre goal as Cambridge keeper Sam Beasant fired a kick from his hands straight at Matt Green and it nearly rebounded into the net. All the more strange as Cambridge themselves benefitted from a goal in very similar circumstances against Notts Country recently when Roy Carroll kicked the ball out. To add to the craziness, a clearance from Stags keeper Brian Jensen just two minutes later cannoned off Ben Williamson and also could have gone in.

So the Stags go into Christmas in 8th place, just outside the play-off zone that they’ve occupied for almost all of the last 3 months. A great achievement by Adam Murray, Micky Moore, Richard Cooper and the players considering where the club came from last season. And so on to Morecambe on Boxing Day, but until then Merry Christmas everyone!

Mansfield made two changes from the side that drew with Leyton Orient: Clements returned from suspension in place of McGuire. And Matty Blair came in for Westcarr. It was a rare start for Blair, just his second league start since returning from long-term injury, and the intention was for him to exploit the wide pitch and excellent surface of the Abbey Stadium. It was a 4-1-4-1 formation with Chapman sitting in front of the back four, Rose and Clements in central midfield, and Blair and Lambe on the wings, though with licence to get forward so that it was often 3 up front in the opening 30 minutes. Cambridge included Greg Taylor, who played for the Stags in our Conference promotion season. He started at left back but switched to right back after 19 minutes due to an injury to the regular right back, which meant a re-shuffle, and the introduction of Ryan Donaldson onto the right wing from the bench, a player who’s play so well against us before.

On a remarkably mild December afternoon, Mansfield had the wind behind them in the first half.

Matty Blair was straight into the action looking lively and he put in a great cross from the right on 3 minutes which Green headed over the bar. At the other end on 6 minutes, Greg Taylor crossed from the left, Jensen tried to punch and got just enough on it to clear the danger.

On 8 minutes, Clements fed Adams on the left, Adams crossed to the far post where the ball was knocked back down to Clements who shot wide from the edge of the box.

On 13 minutes, a good ball down the line from Adams for Lambe and Lambe’s cross into the middle was headed away.

A strange incident on 16 minutes as Mansfield nearly scored through a bizarre goal as Cambridge keeper Sam Beasant fired a kick from his hands straight at Matt Green and it nearly rebounded into the net. It missed by only about a yard. All the more strange as Cambridge themselves benefitted from a goal in very similar circumstances against Notts Country recently when Roy Carroll kicked the ball out. Cambridge players protested, but the referee ignored the protests and it would have stood as a goal if the ball had gone in.

To add to the craziness just two minutes later, a clearance from Stags keeper Brian Jensen cannoned off Ben Williamson and also could have gone in. I think on this occasion Jensen was too slow in positioning himself to clear from the backpass from Collins and nearly paid the price.

Mansfield took the lead on 23 minutes and it was reward for being the better side. Matty Blair was brought down 35 yards from goal. Adam Chapman elected to shoot and fired a low free-kick towards the right corner of the net. It was a good shot from Chapman but as he admitted afterwards, the keeper Sam Beasant probably should have saved it. Chapman also admitted afterwards that he initially intended to cross from the free-kick but boss Adam Murray suggested from the sidelines that he should shoot, with the wind behind him. It was Chapman’s first goal of the season and he became Mansfield’s 12th scorer of the season.

A minute later, Green played the ball back to Blair whose low shot from 35 yards was well wide.

Cambridge had the ball in the net on 26 minutes but it was disallowed for offside. Greg Taylor, who had now switched to right back, crossed from the right, Barry Corr nodded down, but Luke Berry was a yard offside as he poked into the net from close range. Two minutes later, Ledson fired in a low shot from 10 yards and Jensen made a good save diving to push the ball away.

On 31 minutes, Chapman floated a free-kick from just inside the Cambridge half which Tafazolli glanced towards goal and keeper Beasant pushed away.

Mitch Rose was booked on 32 minutes for a bad challenge on the touchline, level with edge of the Cambridge area. It was a silly challenge to make in a position of no danger.

On 35 minutes Lambe nearly put Green in on the edge of the area but he was just unable to control.

Cambridge were level on 36 minutes. Blair Adams tried to intercept a square ball from Corr but he only deflected the ball to Ryan Donaldson. Donaldson took advantage, got past Adams too easily and shot goalwards from the edge of the box. Donaldson got a very lucky break as the shot took a deflection off Krystian Pearce’s heel, wrong-footing Brian Jensen, and ended up in the back of the net. Plenty of luck involved in the goal but poorly defended as well. I cursed that Donaldson had been introduced from the sub’s bench so early in the game as he’s a player that often causes us problems.

On 42 minutes, Newton crossed from the right and Corr headed straight at Jensen with little power.

A minute later a ball down the left for Cambridge, Ben Williamson was just onside, chased after it, cut inside and sent in a low shot from an angle, Jensen made himself big and saved it. Good goalkeeping. From the resulting corner from Donaldson, Luke Berry got the better of Adams and headed just wide of the right post. An escape for the Stags. On 44 minutes, Williamson cut inside and his shot was blocked by Tafazolli. On 45 minutes, Williamson was allowed to get through again, as the Stags defence was asleep, but Pearce recovered well to make a good tackle. Williamson was playing for a penalty and claimed it but it was a fine tackle. On 45+2 minutes, a good break down the right by Newton, his low cross was well defended by Tafazolli under pressure from Berry, and Corr stabbed the loose ball wide of the right post under good pressure from Adams.

Cambridge had created enough chances in the final 10 minutes of the half to go in front but the Stags somehow held out until half time despite uncertain defending. The half-time whistle came at a good time for the Stags, who were on the ropes in truth. Earlier in the half, Mansfield had been the better side and deserved to go ahead with Chapman’s free-kick.

Half time 1-1

Cambridge now had the wind behind them for the second half.

But the Stags re-grouped and completely nullified Cambridge who lost the momentum they had gained at the end of the first half. There was no goalmouth action at either end in the opening stages of the second half. On 57 minutes, Taylor floated a ball forward from deep which just over Corr. At the other end on 59 minutes, Lambe played a good ball forward to Green, who ran into the area on the right but lost his footing as he turned.

This was much more solid from Mansfield.

On 63 minutes, a Cambridge corner from the right and Leon Legge headed well wide.

On 65 minutes, a shot from Lambe from 20 yards was blocked. A minute later, Cambridge had a free-kick from 28 yards, left of centre, which Newton curled over the bar.

Nathan Thomas replaced Blair on 66 minutes. Blair had had a very good opening 30 minutes, but hadn’t been involved much after that. Nathan Thomas was brought on to play just behind Green and run at the defence.

On 69 minutes, Adams did well as Donaldson attacked down the right, blocking his cross for a corner.

On 77 minutes, Ledson dinked a free-kick into the area to the far post, Legge headed it across goal, Tafazolli headed out, but only as far as Berry who turned, flicked the ball over his shoulder and fired just over the bar. Super skill from Luke Berry.

On 81 minutes, Clements played a good ball inside for Nathan Thomas, who ran at the defence, and his shot-come-cross from an angle was blocked for a corner.

On 85 minutes, Nathan Thomas gained a yard of space 30 yards out but his powerful shot was blocked by Legge. It looked on target to me, albeit I didn’t have the best angle on it.

Then a minute later, Nathan Thomas played a one-two with Lambe and broke into the area, but the ball was cleared by Legge.

The Stags had a chance to win the game on 88 minutes. A Cambridge ball forward hit Clements on the back on the halfway line and rebounded fortunately into the path of Green who charged forward and into the area and his low shot towards the bottom left corner of the net was well-saved by Beasant.

Yussuf replaced Lambe on 89 minutes.

On 90+1 minutes, Nathan Thomas made a good run and his cross was put behind for a corner. The corner, taken from the left by Chapman, skimmed off the head of Luke Berry, straight to Krystian Pearce. Pearce took one touch, swivelled and fired in a left-footed shot from close range which was somehow blocked on the line by Beasant, when it seemed likely to be the winner. Pearce couldn’t believe he hadn’t scored and Beasant certainly making up for not saving Chapman’s free-kick.

Green was booked for an innocuous foul off the ball on 90+3 minutes.

And so both sides had to settle for a point, and in my opinion it was a fair result. But the Stags certainly finished the game strongly and could so easily have won it with those two late chances.

Man of the match: Adam Chapman


Report by: Martin Shaw at the Abbey Stadium



Line Up:
(4-1-4-1)
Jensen 7 Wrong-footed for the goal and no chance. Made two good saves. Was too slow clearing on one occasion.
Collins 7 Solid game.
Pearce 6 Had a poor 15 minutes before half time, though one good recovering tackle. Otherwise solid. Could have been the matchwinner when he shot was blocked by the keeper.
Tafazolli 6.5 Generally solid though like Pearce was struggling for 15 minutes before half time. One or two good clearances.
Adams 5.5 At fault for the goal. And allowed Berry to head just wide. Otherwise did ok.
Chapman 7 Good free-kick for the goal, albeit the keeper should have saved. Generally did well.
Blair 7 Very good opening 30 minutes, but less involved after that.
Rose 6.5 Worked hard for the team.
Clements 7 Some good skill.
Lambe 7 Good game.
Green 6.5 Worked hard and covered a lot of ground on a big pitch. Looked tired towards the end. Went close with shot that brought a good save from the keeper and a keeper’s clearance off his backside.
Sub Line Up:
N.Thomas (for Blair, 66) 7 Several good runs, and injected fresh impetus in the latter stages.
Yussuf (for Lambe, 89) -
Subs not used: Shearer, Westcarr, J.Thomas, McGuire, Beardsley.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2): Beasant; Gayle (Donaldson 19), Legge, Roberts, Taylor; Berry, Newton, Ledson, Dunk; Corr, Williamson. Subs not used: Dunn, Slew, Kennedy, Coulson, Simpson, L.Hughes.
Referee:
Ross Joyce 7 Generally handled the game well.


Season 15/16 Reports